Farmers needed to help rural dementia project

Researchers from Plymouth University are looking to speak to farmers who have a family member suffering from dementia.

Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society predict the number of dementia cases will increase by 156% by 2051.

The increase in cases is likely to particularly affect rural areas where there are higher proportions of elderly people.

The project, called Farming, Dementia and Networks of Care, is focusing specifically on the impact of dementia in farming communities – how it affects farmers, their families and carers.

The project has three main aims:

  1. To consider the impact of dementia on farming businesses
  2. To evaluate how dementia affects farming families and communities
  3. To consider how voluntary and state agencies can support farming families dealing with dementia

Richard Yarwood and Claire Kelly from Plymouth University will carry out the project, which will be funded by the Seal Hayne Educational Trust.

Take part in the project

If you or someone in your family is suffering from dementia and would like to share your experiences email 
Richard Yarwood (,) Claire Kelly ( or Ian Sherriff (

Growing problem

They will be assisted by a steering group on which will include Joanne Jones from rural charity Farming Community Network (FCN).

“Dementia is a growing problem and, as an organisation, the FCN wants to ensure that we are offering the best possible support to farming families where there is a diagnosis of dementia,” said Mrs Jones.

“We are aware of families who are struggling to care for loved ones whilst managing the farm – it might be a disturbed night’s sleep meaning a struggle to work the following day, or having to take the member of the family with them in the tractor because they are afraid that person will wander off during the day.” 

Starting point

Dr Yarwood said: “The project is a starting point and we hope that it will be useful to care agencies and provide support for farming families affected by dementia.”

“We will be making our key findings public and we hope, in turn, that this will lead to a wider understanding of dementia in rural places.

“We plan to build on this small-scale project to develop applications for future research into care of those with dementia in the countryside.”

Dementia Friends

Farming Community Network are encouraging all their volunteers to become Dementia Friends.

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action – you can find out more about the Dementia Friend project on the Alzheimer’s Society’s  special website.

James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said: “A diagnosis of dementia can be a frightening and confusing experience, and in tight-knit and geographically isolated communities it can be hard to reach out and get information and advice.

Many people don’t know there’s any support available for them, let alone how to access it.

“Research into dementia care offers a great opportunity to improve quality of life for people with dementia.

“This programme looks like an interesting way to understand the impact of dementia in farming communities and will hopefully look at ways families can better manage their condition and access services.”

If you or someone in your family is suffering from dementia and you would like to share your experiences to help this project, you can contact 
Dr Yarwood by email at, Dr Kelly at or Ian Sherriff at